Japan’s major business lobby to urge workers to take more holidays


Japan’s most influential business lobby pledged Friday to urge its member firms to have employees take more holidays in a bid to boost the tourism industry.

In a dialogue with the government, the chief of the Japan Business Federation, better known as Keidanren, said the lobby will call on companies to urge employees to increase the number of paid holidays they take by about three days a year.

“There are more inbound tourists, but domestic tourism demand is weakening,” Keidanren Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara told reporters after the meeting.

“We will promote taking paid holidays, which are currently at around eight days (a year) on average.”

Workers in Japan often do not take all the paid holidays they are entitled to due to heavy workloads or out of concern that their absence will cause inconvenience to colleagues.

The government will promote family trips by enabling elementary and junior high schools to set holidays more flexibly, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the meeting.

Abe also urged companies to increase wages in order to dispel deflationary thinking, maintaining the wage hike trend of the past two years.

“Though there are fluctuations in markets, our economy’s fundamentals are firm,” Abe said. “I would like (companies) to expand investment actively as well.”

In the agricultural sector, the government aims to realize unmanned monitoring systems by 2020 to fill the labor shortage and increase productivity.

Keidanren will strengthen cooperation with agricultural cooperatives to utilize advanced information technology in farming and expand food exports.

Tourism and agriculture are viewed as hey sectors in boosting Japan’s economic growth.

Abe has vowed to lift the nominal gross domestic product by 20 percent from the current level to ¥600 trillion by around 2020.